Thursday, 10 October 2013

New immigration bill..

Breaking news: Theresa May has been speaking on the Today programme defending the new Immigration Bill which is announced today. Illegal immigrants will be denied driving licences, banks will also be told to refuse to open accounts for foreigners not entitled to be in Britain and some foreign nationals to pay a £200 surcharge to use the NHS.
Mrs May said: "People who use the NHS should be making some form of contribution, I think most people will recognise that as being fair."
"I don't think illegal immigrants should be able to open bank accounts or have access to a driving licence."
"The Immigration Bill will make it much harder for people who are here illegally to stay here."
Diane Abbott was not impressed, tweeting #lyntoncrosbypolitics during the interview.
Good morning. Too much popularity is a new problem for a Government policy to have. What the Mail describes as "the stampede" for Royal Mail shares has created a headache: there's just not enough to go around. Michael Fallon's insistence to the public - "You'll get a fair share" - looks increasingly hard to deliver thanks to the popularity of the shares. Over 700,000 private investors have applied - the Government has received applications for up to 15 times the number of shares available - and, with 70 per cent of the shares being reserved for big investors, a lot of people are going to end up disappointed. Mr Fallon met with Vince Cable last night to discuss how to proceed. The emphasis is on how to allow small investors to benefit - so there are suggestions that all those who apply for the minimum amount of shares (£750 worth) will be successful, and larger investors will not. That would be a smart move politically, and allow the Government to trumpet privatisation as a measure that helps those who most need it. The hope is that the rush for shares brings a dividend for the Government. As we argue, "Popular capitalism can pay dividends again." It is remarkable to reflect that, only a few weeks ago, there were genuine fears that the flotation could flop.
During a fraught PMQs yesterday (Dave still has to deal effectively with Labour's offer of an energy price freeze, as Tim Wigmore blogged), the PM sought relief in a BBC survey "reporting that you can cut public spending and make public services better." ICM researchers seem to doubt Dave's logic, telling the Times that 40 per cent think public services have got worse in the last five years ago, while 42 per cent think the quality has stayed the same and 15 per cent feel they have got better. But there is better news from the OBR, which says that austerity was not to blame for the downturn. Still, troubled waters could lie ahead: Peter Oborne warns that the phone-hacking trial (which starts in 18 days) "will be dream territory for the PM’s rivals".
While we edge towards the unpalatable prospect of the first state regulation of the press for 300 years, the Mail go all out for the Guardian today, continuing their attacks on the paper for leaking security secrets. It labels the Guardian, "The paper that helps Britain's enemies". And the BBC don't escape the Mail's wrath either: "The problem, and it’s worse under the new director general, is that a wall of prejudice surrounds Broadcasting House – a belief that the Right merits relentless attack, while the BBC’s soulmates on the liberal Left must always be protected."
It was Denis Healey who (though he denied it) reportedly declared Labour's intention was to "tax the rich until the pips squeak". He would surely have had a word of congratulations to offer the Coalition, with the latest figures showing that the best-paid 1 per cent will contribute 29.8 per cent of all income tax in 2013-14.
There has been a tendency to forget Labour's problems in recent weeks, but a leaked private poll is a reminder of the credibility gap facing the party on key issues. Welfare reform is a stark problem: the public supports the government by two to one on this, as The Times reports. And it gets much, much worse: among Labour-Conservative swing voters, 64 per cent support the benefit changes, with only 9 per cent against them. Rachel Reeves has a lot of work to do. Labour know the difficulties for the party, but there's a private resignation that voters who want a hard line on welfare won't be drawn to the party. The danger is this notion becomes self-perpetuating.
"I am not moving the goalposts. The badgers are moving the goalposts." Owen Paterson yesterday delivered one of the great lines by a minister. The serious point is that marksmen have missed their badger cull target by 10 per cent.
Ed Balls is phoning an old friend in his quest to regain the trust of the British electorate. Well, sort of. Robert Chote, the head of the OBR is the man Mr Balls wants to verify Labour's economic plans. Mr Chote has history with the Shadow Chancellor: a profile he wrote of Mr Balls 15 years ago saying that  "Brown’s reluctance to trust his ministerial colleagues has been mirrored by his reluctance to trust many of his own officials" was not well-received, as Sue Cameron explains in her column
Sir Menzies Campbell has announced that he will retire at the 2015 election, which is a few weeks before his 74th birthday. Campbell has been MP for North East Fife since 1987 (as well as Lib Dem leader in 2006-07) and is well-regarded in the House; he deserves the warm tributes that will come his way, with Nick Clegg describing him as "a towering presence". The Lib Dems have a majority of 9,000 in his constituency so will feel they have enough of a local base to withstand his departure.
Forget the race for Deputy Speaker, what really matters is the battle to be Westminster Dog of the Year. 15 dogs and their masters have entered the contest, won last year by Star, the Norfolk terrier owned by the Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke, as the Times notes. Richard Graham thinks that his Jack Russell, Twiglet, should win "because he is brighter than his owner".
Diane Abbott is using her new-found freedom already:
@HackneyAbbott: Theresa May boasting about cutting would-be immigrants legal rights @BBCr4today #lyntoncrosbypolitics
In the Telegraph 
Best of the rest
David Aaronovitch in The Times - Beware: a dangerous new generation of leakers
George Osborne and Mark Carney attend the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bankers meeting.
9.45am Public Accounts Committee hearing on severance payments.
10am Nick Clegg at Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee.
10am Theresa May and Chris Grayling at European Scrutiny Committee.
10.30am Sir Brian Leveson gives evidence to culture, media and sport select committee on press regulation.
11am Trade unionist Brendan Barber receives his knighthood at Buckingham Palace.

12pm Bank of England decision on interest rates and quantitative easing programme.